CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland Mercedes Qualifying

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 Portland International Raceway, Portland, Ore. Date/Session: Saturday, June 19, 1999 Final Qualifying Castro-Neves...

FedEx Championship Series Report

Race: Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 Portland International Raceway, Portland, Ore. Date/Session: Saturday, June 19, 1999 Final Qualifying

Castro-Neves Puts Mercedes On Front Row At Portland For the third time this season, Mercedes sophomore driver Helio Castro-Neves scored a front-row position on the starting grid, qualifying his Hogan Racing Mercedes Lola second-quickest for Sunday's Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200, round eight of the CART FedEx Championship Series.

Putting to rest the notion that the new Lola chassis might only be effective on oval race tracks, Castro-Neves' blistering penultimate circuit of the 1.969-mile Portland International Raceway road course in 58.282 seconds (121.622 mph) was just 0.089 seconds behind PPG Cup points leader Juan Montoya. As Montoya watched from the pit stand, Castro-Neves made one final attempt for the pole position, but ran out of fuel turning for home. Still, with a smile on his face, the young Brazilian kissed his Hogan Racing Mercedes race car as he exited the cockpit in pit lane.

"We were doing so great, and I was saying to myself, 'we're going for it, we're going for it,'" said Castro-Neves. "Then I said, 'I can't believe it!'"

The young Brazilian (Castro-Neves) and the young Columbian (Montoya) shared the front row at Nazareth, Pa. Castro-Neves earned his first Champ Car pole position at The Milwaukee Mile two weeks ago.

Player's/Forsythe pilot Patrick Carpentier, who was second-quickest at yesterday's provisional qualifying, posted the eighth-fastest qualifying lap of 58.437 seconds (121.300 mph). Roberto "Super Sub" Moreno qualified his PacWest Motorola Mercedes on the sixth row with a lap in 58.609 seconds (120.944 mph). Moreno is substituting for injured Mark Blundell for the fourth consecutive event, as Blundell recovers from a fractured vertebra sustained in a testing accident on May 4th.

Carpentier teammate Greg Moore suffered mechanical problems near the end of the qualifying session, and did not have the opportunity to drive a clean lap on fresh tires. He will start from the seventh row with a qualifying lap of 58.679 seconds (120.800 mph). PacWest Hollywood Mercedes pilot Mauricio Gugelmin clocked a lap in 58.783 seconds (120.586 mph), and will start in 16th position.

The Marlboro Team Penske drivers Tarso Marques and Al Unser Jr., were in the top 10 during yesterday's provisional qualifying on a wet track, but could not find the answers on today's dry circuit. Rookie Marques will drive his Mercedes-powered Penske from 18th position (58.872 seconds/120.404 mph), while Unser Jr., will start 26th in his Lola (59.791 seconds/118.553 mph). Epson Bettenhausen rookie Shigeaki Hattori missed the morning practice due to mechanical problems, and took a conservative approach to the qualifying session. Hattori will start from the 14th row (62.129 seconds/114.092 mph). The green flag for the Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 will wave Sunday, June 20, at 1 p.m. PT (live, ABC-TV, 4 p.m. ET).

Mercedes Quotes

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (Second/58.282 seconds) "The whole Hogan team did a superb job. We've shown that the Lola is not only good on ovals, but on road courses. We didn't practice here, but we didn't change much on the car today. Everything just came together at the end *the tires, everything. I am very happy to be on the front row beside Juan again. We have confidence. There is no doubt for us about this race car, but I tell you, if we had a Reynard or a Swift, the Hogan team would do the same job. "

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Eighth/58.437 seconds) "I am very pleased. The car was really awful this morning, but we made some changes, and it was a huge improvement -- much more stable. The car did it by itself. Mercedes has made definite gains with the driveability on a dry track. The whole team did a great job."

Roberto Moreno, No. 18, Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (11th/ 58.609 seconds) "We had a very good session in the morning. We did some work so I could improve my speed through the corners. We made some adjustments to the ride height and the rear of the car. Our tires were fantastic today, and the Mercedes engine was exceptional."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (13th/ 58.679 seconds) "I'm disappointed because I think we could have been in the top three or four. We didn't get to run our second set of tires. We'll just have to do our best tomorrow."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (16th/ 58.783 seconds) "In the morning, the balance was a lot better than it was on Friday, but we still had a problem with the clutch. We were limited to two or three runs, and because of Papis' crash (late in the session), we weren't able to try any laps on new tires. "In qualifying, the car was pretty good balance-wise, and we were quick through the S curve. But we're working on improving our speed on the straights. The engineers and I will take a look and see what we can do before the race tomorrow."

Shigeaki Hattori, No. 16, Epson Bettenhausen Motorsports Mercedes/Goodyear (28th/62.129 seconds) "I had to start over today * everything I learned yesterday in the rain about braking and shifting points changed in today's dry conditions. It's too bad that we had to miss the morning session, but the guys worked hard to get the car ready for me. We'll make some more changes before tomorrow's race. I'm hoping to improve even more."

Qualifying, Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200

Portland, Ore. June 19, 1999 Pos. Driver Engine Time Speed 1 Juan Montoya Honda 58.193 121.808 2 Helio Castro-Neves Mercedes-Benz 58.282 121.622 3 Gil de Ferran Honda 58.339 121.504 4 Bryan Herta Ford Cosworth 58.359 121.462 5 Adrian Fernandez Ford Cosworth 58.364 121.452 6 Paul Tracy Honda 58.403 121.370 7 Jimmy Vasser Honda 58.403 121.370 8 Patrick Carpentier Mercedes-Benz 58.437 121.300 9 Christian Fittipaldi Ford Cosworth 58.479 121.213 10 Max Papis Ford Cosworth 58.561 121.043 11 Roberto Moreno Mercedes-Benz 58.609 120.944 13 Greg Moore Mercedes-Benz 58.679 120.800 16 Mauricio Gugelmin Mercedes-Benz 58.783 120.586 18 Tarso Marques Mercedes-Benz 58.872 120.404 26 Al Unser Jr. Mercedes-Benz 59.791 118.553 28 Shigeaki Hattori Mercedes-Benz 62.129 114.092

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Shigeaki Hattori , Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Tarso Marques , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , Mark Blundell , Greg Moore
Teams Team Penske